Iran’s defence minister has dismissed as “undocumented” a video released by the US military which allegedly shows an Iranian boat removing what the US calls “a mine” from the two oil tankers recently hit by explosions in the Sea of Oman.
Brigadier General Amir Hatami said Iran rejects outright the accusation levelled against the country on the basis of the footage.
“Following the oil tankers incident, the [Iranian] Armed Forces and the Ports Organization were among the first troops to approach the oil tankers to help, and they saved 23 people on the first oil tanker,” the defence chief said.
“When our forces went to the second oil tanker to help, its crew members said another vessel had already come to their aid, which means the Americans had, before us, gone to the area where they claim the video had been recorded,” he said.
Last Thursday, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) released the video purportedly showing “Iranian sailors” removing a mine from the Japanese-owned Kokura Courageous’ hull.
In the video released, a small boat is shown coming up to the side of the Japanese-owned tanker. An individual stands up on the bow of the boat and can be seen removing an object from the tanker’s hull. The US claims that the object is likely an unexploded mine.
“At 4:10 p.m. local time an IRGC Gashti Class patrol boat approached the M/T Kokuka Courageous and was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous,” the CENTCOM said in a statement.
The claim, however, was soon rejected by the Japanese ship’s operator, whose president said on Friday its sailors on board the Kokuka Courageous saw “flying objects” just before the attack, suggesting the tanker wasn’t damaged by mines.
European governments — except for Britain — also refused to accept the US’ narrative that Tehran was to blame for the “suspicious” attacks.
They are reluctant to accept the White House’s claims at face value, and do not want to provide Washington with any pretext for war.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Friday the video is not sufficient to prove the US claim that Iran was behind the attacks.
“The video is not enough. We can understand what is being shown, sure, but to make a final assessment, this is not enough for me,” Maas, who was in Iran earlier this week on an official two-day visit, told reporters in Oslo.